Los Gatos Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and more in Los Gatos, California.

Introduction to Los Gatos

Los Gatos is a charming town nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the South Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA. Known for its small-town feel and luxurious surroundings, Los Gatos offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and outdoor adventures. This town has something for everyone—from hikers and foodies to wine lovers and history buffs.

List of Places to Visit in Los Gatos

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Los Gatos boasts a rich history, and visitors can explore this through its museums and historical places. Some of the must-visit attractions in this category include:

  • New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU): This contemporary art and history museum is dedicated to showcasing the work of artists from the Bay Area. Visitors can view exhibitions and participate in a wide range of workshops and educational programs.
  • Forbes Mill Museum: This museum was once a flour mill built in 1854 and is now a popular attraction that showcases the agricultural history of the town.
  • The Old Town: Take a stroll through Los Gatos’ old town and embrace the charm and history it has to offer.

Natural Attractions of Los Gatos: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Los Gatos offers numerous opportunities to get up close and personal with nature. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, this is a must-visit destination. Some of the best places to explore in this category include:

  • Vasona Lake County Park: Visitors can enjoy paddle boating, fishing, biking, and hiking in this beautiful natural park.
  • Castle Rock State Park: This park offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and is a great place to hike and explore the great outdoors.
  • Lexington Reservoir County Park: This picturesque reservoir is a great place for a picnic, relaxing on the beach, or hiking the nearby trails.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Los Gatos

Los Gatos boasts a wide range of hiking and biking trails catering to different levels of experience. Some of the top routes to take include:

  • Jones Trail: This intermediate trail is well maintained and offers stunning views of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
  • St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve: This hike is suitable for beginners and takes you through the preserve’s oak-covered hills providing amazing views.
  • The Los Gatos Creek Trail: A relatively flat trail which runs through the heart of Los Gatos for hikers, joggers, and bikers.

Best Things to Do in Los Gatos: Activities and Tours

Los Gatos has plenty to offer when it comes to exciting activities and tours, from wine tasting to hot-air balloon rides to scenic train rides. Here are some of the top things to do in Los Gatos:

  • Testarossa Winery: This winery is an elegant spot for wine tastings and taking in the stunning vineyard scenery.
  • Skyline Balloons: Take a hot-air balloon ride and enjoy the spectacular views of Wilson Peak, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Silicon Valley.
  • The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad: The little ones will enjoy this amusement park featuring miniature trains, vintage cars, and a merry-go-round.

Week-Long Itinerary for Los Gatos

Here is a suggested itinerary for a week-long trip to Los Gatos:

  • Day 1: Visit the Forbes Mill Museum, explore the Old Town, and grab a bite at a local restaurant.
  • Day 2: Hike the Jones Trail, have a picnic in Vasona Lake County Park.
  • Day 3: Take a hot-air balloon ride with Skyline Balloons, and relax at a local spa.
  • Day 4: Visit the NUMU museum and take part in one of its many workshops.
  • Day 5: Head to Testarossa Winery for wine tasting and a vineyard tour.
  • Day 6: Take a scenic train ride on the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and visit the Lexington Reservoir County Park.
  • Day 7: Cycle the Los Gatos Creek Trail and finish the day with dinner and drinks in the Old Town.

Food and Drink Scene of Los Gatos

Los Gatos is a buzzing food and drink destination with a variety of restaurants, bars, and wineries. Here are some of the must-try dishes and beverages in Los Gatos:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Prawn Tacos: Experience the taste of freshly caught prawns in tacos at the Summit House Beer Garden and Grill.
  • Italian food: Pasta dishes at the Blue Line Pizza are a must-try.
  • Japanese Cuisine: Sushi lovers will enjoy the excellent sushi at Yume Sushi.

Local Beverages

  • Wine: The Testarossa winery produces some of the region’s best wines.
  • Beer: The beer garden at Summit House Beer Garden and Grill is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
  • Coffee: Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company is the best place to grab a good cup of coffee.

Where to Stay in Los Gatos: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

There are several accommodation options to choose from in Los Gatos, including top-rated hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Here are some of the best places to stay:

  • Hotel Los Gatos: A luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of Los Gatos’ trendy Old Town.
  • The Toll House Hotel: A sophisticated hotel that offers a mix of modern amenities and natural beauty.
  • Los Gatos Lodge: A budget-friendly option ideal for travelers on a tight budget.

What to Buy in Los Gatos: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Looking for unique souvenirs to take home? Los Gatos has a range of locally-made products, including:

  • Local wines: Buy a bottle of wine produced in the Santa Cruz Mountains and enjoy it back home as a memory of your trip.
  • Artisanal olive oil: Made in nearby Saratoga, this locally-produced olive oil is a great souvenir if you’re a foodie.
  • Handmade pottery and ceramics: Head to the NUMU gift shop and pick up some unique pottery pieces.

Local Culture and Customs of Los Gatos

Los Gatos is a laid-back and friendly town. When visiting, it’s important to respect the local customs and etiquette, such as using sidewalks if they are available for pedestrian use, leaving dogs on a leash, and observing the local driving practices.

Best Time to Visit Los Gatos

The best times to visit Los Gatos are spring and autumn when the weather is mild, and the crowds are thinner. The summer months (June to August) are the busiest, and room rates are quite high. If you want to visit in the off-season, plan your trip for December-January when off-season rates are available.

Do’s and Don’ts of Los Gatos


  • Do try locally-produced wine and olive oil.
  • Do explore the town’s natural beauty by taking a hike or bike ride.
  • Do visit the NUMU museum and attend their workshops.


  • Don’t leave your trash behind when hiking or picnicking.
  • Don’t be disrespectful of the local customs and driving practices.
  • Don’t drive on the roadside shoulders unless it is marked as a designated lane.

Safety and Health

Safety in Los Gatos

Los Gatos is a relatively safe destination, but it’s always important to take precautions when traveling. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t leave valuable items in your car when parked.
  • When hiking or exploring the natural areas, don’t wander off trails unprepared.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings when exploring the town.

Health in Los Gatos

Los Gatos is home to quality medical centers and hospitals. The area is relatively safe to live and visit, but always exercise caution and follow CDC guidelines for safety and health.

Getting to Los Gatos: Transportation Options and Logistics

Los Gatos is well connected to the surrounding regions and has several transportation options.

Airports Near Los Gatos

  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the largest airport and is about 50 miles from Los Gatos.
  • San Jose International Airport (SJC) is the most convenient airport and is about 16 miles from Los Gatos.

Bus Stations Near Los Gatos

  • The Santa Cruz Metro Bus System provides service not only to Santa Cruz but into towns like Los Gatos.

Other Options

  • There is plenty of parking in Los Gatos and if you fancy ride-sharing, both Uber and Lyft service the area.

How to Get Around in Los Gatos

Los Gatos is a small town and the best way to explore it is by foot or bike. Travelers can rent bikes at several local rental shops.

Where to Go Next from Los Gatos: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

There are plenty of nearby destinations worth exploring post Los Gatos. Here are some of them:

  • The beautiful Monterey and the Pacific Ocean are about 50 miles south of Los Gatos.
  • The stunning Santa Cruz Beach is about 20 miles away, a lovely day trip from Los Gatos with beautiful scenery along the way.
  • Take a trip to charming Saratoga and Mountain View, only a few miles from Los Gatos.


Los Gatos is a beautiful town with a rich history, natural beauty, exciting activities, delicious food, and wine. Just a short drive from San Francisco, this charming town is the perfect getaway for anyone looking for an escape from the city. Explore its museums and historical places, hike its trails, enjoy an outdoor adventure, and, of course, indulge in its fantastic food and drink scene. There’s something for everyone here in Los Gatos.